.17 HMR [Guide]: Best Ammo & Guns

.22 LR, 9mm, .45 ACP, 5.56 NATO, and .308 Win seem to get all of the glory.

But there are dozens of other cartridges that are worthy of our attention. .17 HMR is just one of them!

.17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire, or .17 HMR, is a comparatively young cartridge that made a huge splash when it first came on the market over a decade and a half ago.

.17 HMR Vs. .22 LR
.17 HMR Vs. .22 LR

The round’s popularity isn’t surprising.  It’s one of the fastest and most accurate rimfire cartridges currently on the market.

Yet a lot of people still aren’t very familiar with the .17 HMR or what it can do.

So what do you need to know about this relative newcomer?

I’ve put together this guide to tell you!  Now let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Loading...

What Is .17 HMR?

.17 HMR is, as the name would suggest, a rimfire cartridge that first hit the market in 2002 and is used primarily in rifles, but also in some revolvers.

Also as the name would suggest, .17 HMR was developed by Hornady with assistance from Marlin and Ruger.

.17 HMR Hornady Varmint Express Round
.17 HMR Hornady Varmint Express

The design was inspired by rounds created by hobby rimfire cartridge makers, or wildcatters, who were attempting to develop a round with similar ballistics to the  Remington Magnum Rimfire, or 5mm RMR, because of its speed and flat trajectory.

The developers designed .17 HMR to be a high-velocity cartridge that was also accurate and dependable.

The .17 HMR is a necked down version of the .22 Magnum and generally uses a 17-grain bullet, though you can also find rounds with 20 grain and 15.5-grain bullets.

.17 HMR (2) Compared to Other Cartridges
.17 HMR (2) Compared to Other Cartridges

Though .17 HMR was designed to replicate the ballistics of the 5mm RMR.

But the .22 Magnum cartridge was instead used as the parent case because it was more widely available, was stronger than other .22 cases, and wouldn’t require significant changes to existing rifle and magazine designs like the 5mm RMR would thanks to its unusual head.

.17 HMR is available in hollow point, soft tip, and full metal jacket (FMJ).

Uses of .17 HMR

.17 HMR is primarily used for mid-range small game and varmint hunting.  The bullet’s velocity and accuracy make it ideal for hunting rabbit, possum, and raccoon from up to 200 yards.  

You can hit this guy with no problem from 200 yards
You can hit this guy with no problem from 200 yards

The round’s high energy can make it a bit too destructive for hunting varmints like squirrels and chipmunks, but if you’re not particularly concerned with preserving the body then .17 HMR can be a great choice.

Skilled marksmen have used .17 HMR for larger game like hogs and coyotes, but it takes a hell of a shot and a range within about 50 yards to pull it off.

The other major use for .17 HMR is for plinking.  

.17 HMR is a great option for a day at the range.
.17 HMR is a great option for a day at the range.

It balances affordability with speed and accuracy.  It’s also relatively quiet compared to larger ammunition, though it is louder than its main competitor, .22 WMR.

.17 HMR’s primary limitation is its susceptibility to wind.  With a 10 mph crosswind, a 17 gr .17 HMR bullet will drift about 3 inches at 100 yards and around 15 inches at 200 yards.  

However, while this is certainly a significant amount, it’s less drift than occurs with .22 WMR.

Still, because of its susceptibility to wind, .17 HMR isn’t really used for competition shooting.

.17 HMR Rounds

A .17 HMR Round
A .17 HMR Round

Now that you know a bit about .17 HMR and what it’s useful for, let’s talk about some of my favorite HMR rounds for plinking and hunting.

Since it’s not used for competition, there aren’t any match specific rounds, at least that I know of or could find online.  Tell me in the comments if you know about a match round that I don’t.

.17 HMR Plinking Ammo

When it comes to plinking ammo, my favorite .17 HMR rounds are Federal Premium V-Max Polymer Tip and Winchester Varmint.

Best Plinking/Training .17 HMR
12.50
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I don’t want to spend much on plinking ammo, so I like that these rounds are super affordable but also have respectable accuracy, velocity, and energy.

12.75
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Both of these are great ammo picks, normally I just grab the cheaper option since I love both equally.

.17 HMR Hunting Ammo

For hunting, either Hornady Varmint Express or CCI Gamepoint is the way to go.

Hornady Varmint Express is the OG of .17 HMR, and it shows in the excellent quality at an affordable price.  

Best Hunting .17 HMR
12.75
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Whether you go with 15.5 gr, 17 gr, or 20 gr, the soft tip offers superior accuracy alongside impressive expansion.  Of course, that expansion means this ammo is best used for pest control.

CCI Gamepoint is better if you want to preserve your game.  It’s a full metal jacket round that expands minimally to protect your meat.  

12.50
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s also incredibly accurate, with a max rise of only 0.6” when sighted for 100 yards.

.17 HMR Guns

Of course, even the best ammo is useless without something to shoot it out of.  

Fortunately, I’ve also assembled some recommendations for something to make that ammo go boom.

Handgun choices for .17 HMR are a bit limited, but there’s no shortage of rifle choices, so let’s start there.

.17 HMR Rifles

Of the many rifle options in .17 HMR, two of the most widely recommended are the Ruger 77/17 and the CZ 455 American.

The Ruger 77/17 was designed by Ruger specifically for .17 caliber ammo and is available in .17 HMR, .17 WSM, and .17 Hornet.

Best .17 Caliber Rifle
888
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Ruger 77/17 is a classically styled bolt action rifle with plenty of modern touches.  It has a stainless steel action, cold hammer forged barrel, and a detachable rotary magazine.

It also has built-in sling swivel mounts to make this rifle easier to carry, even when trekking through the underbrush, as well as integrated scope mounts on the steel receiver and included scope rings.

What’s your take on the Ruger?

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (164)

Your Rating?

I’ve talked about the CZ 455 American before in my list of .22 LR rifle recommendations and I’m listing it here for the same reason.

570
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The 455 American has an interchangeable barrel system that allows you to shoot .17 HMR, .22 LR, and .22 WMR using the same receiver.  

You can start with just the receiver and a pre-attached .17 HMR barrel or a combo that contains the receiver, the .22 LR barrel, and the .17 HMR barrel.  

You can then buy whatever additional barrels you want separately.  

For more info on the CZ 455 American and to hear a Canadian repeatedly pronounce the letter Z, check out the video below.

.17 HMR Handguns

Handgun choices in .17 HMR are fewer and almost exclusively revolvers.

The Taurus Tracker is one such revolver.

This is a durable revolver great for hunting small game!  

442
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It has a textured rubber grip to help you keep maximum control over the weapon in all kinds of conditions and has a seven-shot capacity, giving you an extra shot before you need to reload when compared to most revolvers.

The Tracker also has an excellent safety mechanism.  The gun can be locked with a key at which point the revolver can’t be cocked or fired and the manual safety can’t be disengaged.

 When you’re ready to use it again, you can unlock it and get going. The same key can be used for any Taurus revolvers or pistols.

Final Shots

Now that you know more about .17 HMR, I want to hear from you.  

Have you done much shooting with .17 HMR?  What are your favorite .17 HMR rounds and firearms?  What other less common rounds do you wish were more popular?  If you’re interested in other obscure or mainstream calibers then you’ll want to check out our Ammo & Reloading Guide!

14 Leave a Reply

  • Farmer

    Great woodchuck round. I have a marlin 917 with the heavy barrel. Lightened up the trigger spring. Nice inexpensive good shooting gun.

    1 month ago
  • robert lynch

    This round is extremely great round I use it for hogs and one shot to the neck with cci game rounds will drop the hog in it's tracks at 75 yards dead. When u said you have to be with in 50 yards for an accurate kill shot on a large varmint was wrong.

    9 months ago
  • Dan Boyd

    I’ve been using my Savage 93r to rid the planet of possums and raccoons for the past year. Drops them like rocks! Really want the .17 Alex arms upper.

    11 months ago
  • Heckel

    Almost all major gun companies make revolvers chambered in 17hmr. Ruger, Taurus, S&W, Chiappa......etc There are even AR-15'S chambered in 17HMR.

    11 months ago
  • Larry Sanderson

    I first bought a straight pull action from ati, had a real problem extracing the spent rounds. The back of the case was bulged which in turn deformed the rim, after sending the rifle back twice, I fell out of love with the rifle but not the round. Recently i acquired a Rossi magazine fed bolt action for $137 plus shupping and xfer fee and I'm back in love. An acquaintance has a heavy bbl Savage bolt gun too. I'm able to buy ammo for around $8.00 plus shipping which adds another dollar or so if you get a quantity. The name of the place is SG Ammo out of Oklahom My fave type of shooting is a game I call "FORE!" It involves a golf ball or empty 12ga cases. The leader points out a target then shoots at it. If the tatget moves, it's considered a hit. The shooter keeps shooting until the Shell is out of sight. Its one heck of a thrill to hit a golfball and watch it soar then you get to call out the name of the game.

    11 months ago
    • David

      Rossi bolt and semi-auto small caliber rifles are nice for the price, I have their semi-auto .22 LR RS22 that I paid $102 shipped and love it!

      11 months ago
  • Sam

    Perhaps a future review of the Alexander Arms .17 HMR in the AR platform? :-)

    11 months ago
    • David

      First time I've heard of someone doing .17 HMR on the AR platform. It would be interested to try out!

      11 months ago
    • Eric Hung

      Maybe, Sam!

      11 months ago
  • Bill Green

    Love my Marlin 917VS in .17HMR. I have only ever shot it in 17 gr and I'm totally satisfied with Hornady's V-Max. From a bench rest I can repeatably place 3 rounds at a 100 yds that can be covered with a dime. My son dropped a coyote at under a 100 yds and he dropped right now. I put a BSA Sweet 17 scope on it and I've been really happy with the total package. The only criticism I have of the Marlin are the magazines that come with it. They seem sloppy and cheap although to date I have not had them fail to feed properly.

    11 months ago
    • Robert

      I dropped a hog a 75 yards with mine and after that fell in love with the gun it is my go to hog and scouting rifle when deer season is not in.

      9 months ago
  • Rene Hernandez

    Thanks for such a great piece on my favorite round! I bought my Savage B17 about a year ago for less than $400 and have loved it ever since.

    11 months ago
    • Mark

      Love my Savage also

      11 months ago
  • Monte Walsh

    Good round, used it for years now. Doesn’t require special talent for coyote use.

    11 months ago
New to Guns ? Check out our beginners guns video course. Start Now